position:national security adviser

  • How Trump’s decision to tear up the INF nuclear treaty could spiral out of control – Alternet.org
    https://www.alternet.org/2019/02/how-trumps-decision-to-tear-up-the-inf-nuclear-treaty-could-spiral-out-of-

    US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev signed the treaty on December 8 1987 to give effect to their declaration that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.

    The treaty prohibited the development, testing and possession of ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500km to 5,500km, whether armed with nuclear or conventional warheads.

    A joint statement from Reagan and Gorbachev noted:

    This treaty is historic both for its objective – the complete elimination of an entire class of US and Soviet nuclear arms – and for the innovative character and scope of its verification provisions.

    It entered into force on June 1, 1988. By its implementation deadline of June 1, 1991, 859 US and 1,752 Soviet missiles had been destroyed.

    Reflecting the dominant Cold War architecture of nuclear arms control, the INF Treaty was bilateral. US National Security Adviser John Bolton, writing in 2011 as a private citizen, conceded the treaty had successfully “addressed a significant threat to US interests”. The threat was a surprise Soviet/Russian nuclear attack in Europe using missiles in the 500-5,500km range.

    But the arms control architecture began fraying when US President George W. Bush pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2001. Signed in 1972, the ABM controlled systems designed to counter “strategic” ballistic missiles, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

    With the INF Treaty now dead and another arms control treaty, New Start, set to expire in 2021, the world will be left without any limits on the two major nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

    The collapse of the INF Treaty and deployment of China-specific US missiles could compel China to institute counter-measures – such as rapidly expanding its warhead numbers and missile-delivery systems – to protect vital security interests, including nuclear assets deep in its interior.

    China’s response in turn may trigger re-adjustments to India’s doctrine of credible minimum deterrence and could produce matching re-adjustments by Pakistan. The nuclear arsenals of both these countries is presently limited to under 150 each.

    In a worst-case scenario, China, India and Pakistan could engage in a sprint to parity with the US with a rapid expansion of warhead numbers and missile-delivery capabilities, and perhaps even move to keeping a stock of nuclear weapons on high alert just like Russia and the US.

    However, economic and technological limitations will constrain India and Pakistan’s ability to engage in an open-ended nuclear arms race.
    Expanding arms control

    The sensible alternative would be to begin urgently multilateralising the Cold War bilateral structure of nuclear arms control regimes. This means involving more countries than just Russia and the US in arms control treaties, and in particular involving China.

    #Armes_nucléaires #Multilatéralisme #Traités #Guerre_froide #Guerre


  • John Bolton t’explique ça « at the business level »: Venezuela regime change big business opportunity: John Bolton
    https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/venezuela-regime-change-big-business-opportunity

    White House national security adviser John Bolton said it’s in America’s best interest to declare Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro illegitimate.

    “We want to be sure that everyone on the political level around the world and at the business level, anybody who has interest in the Western Hemisphere, this is a potential major step forward to a lot of progress in our part of the world,” Bolton told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Thursday.


  • Venezuela Wants $1.2 Billion in Gold Back From Bank of England
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-25/u-k-said-to-deny-maduro-s-bid-to-pull-1-2-billion-of-gold

    Nicolas Maduro’s embattled Venezuelan regime, desperate to hold onto the dwindling cash pile it has abroad, was stymied in its bid to pull $1.2 billion worth of gold out of the Bank of England, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The Bank of England’s decision to deny Maduro officials’ withdrawal request comes after top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, lobbied their U.K. counterparts to help cut off the regime from its overseas assets, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified.


  • Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/politics/nato-president-trump.html

    There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

    Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

    Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.

    In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.

    At the time, Mr. Trump’s national security team, including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington’s influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades.

    Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr. Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr. Putin secret from even his own aides, and an F.B.I. investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.

    A move to withdraw from the alliance, in place since 1949, “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests,” said Michèle A. Flournoy, an under secretary of defense under President Barack Obama.

    “It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history,” Ms. Flournoy said in an interview. “And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of.”

    Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, said an American withdrawal from the alliance would be “a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion.”

    “Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin,” Admiral Stavridis said.

    Senior Trump administration officials discussed the internal and highly sensitive efforts to preserve the military alliance on condition of anonymity.

    After the White House was asked for comment on Monday, a senior administration official pointed to Mr. Trump’s remarks in July when he called the United States’ commitment to NATO “very strong” and the alliance “very important.” The official declined to comment further.

    American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.

    Comme on le voit au début et à la fin de cet extrait, si les #USA quittent l’#Otan ce sera pas mal la faute de la #Russie de #"Poutine


  • Bolton made a ‘serious mistake,’ Ankara won’t ‘swallow’ his comments on Syria’s Kurds – Erdogan — RT World News
    https://www.rt.com/news/448293-erdogan-bolton-kurds-mistake

    US National Security adviser John Bolton has made a “huge mistake” naming Ankara’s security guarantees for Kurds a precondition for US pullout from Syria, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

    The Turkish leader unleashed a bitter verbal attack on Bolton while speaking before the country’s ruling party parliamentary group on Tuesday.

    “It is not possible for us to accept and swallow Bolton’s statements made in Israel,” Erdogan said. “Bolton is making a huge mistake, his statement is unacceptable.”

    Erdogan’s remarks referred to the US National Security Adviser’s statement made on Monday. Bolton revealed that the US President Donald Trump told him he would not “not allow Turkey to kill the Kurds.”

    “We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States, at a minimum, so they don’t endanger our troops but also so that they meet the president’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered,” he said.

    The Turkish leader, on his part, stated that Ankara seeks only to kill “terrorists,” while actually protecting its “Kurdish brothers” in the neighboring country.

    “Those, who spread the lie that Turkey is killing Kurds in Syria, are trying to manipulate the international community’s opinion,” Erdogan stressed.

    #syrie #kurdes



  • Scoop: Netanyahu rejected Russian plan to work with U.S. on Syria, Iran
    Axios - 20 déc 2018
    https://www.axios.com/russia-proposal-syria-israel-iran-united-states-c6d0bde9-583a-4dab-8a38-b2a21

    More than three months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s national security adviser Nikolai Patrushev gave his Israeli counterpart a document. It contained an unofficial proposal for a deal between the U.S. and Russia on Syria and Iran intended to start a wider dialogue between Washington and Moscow to improve relations, two Israeli officials with direct knowledge tell me.

    Why it matters: The Russian proposal would have tied a U.S. withdrawal from Syria to an Iranian exit from the country, and provided the U.S. and Israel more influence over a future political settlement in Syria. However, it also called for a freeze on U.S. sanctions on Iran — something Netanyahu found unacceptable. Ultimately, the U.S. gave up much of its leverage in Syria with President Trump’s surprise announcement Wednesday of a unilateral withdrawal.

    Background: Last month, I reported that Netanyahu told a closed door hearing at the Knesset that Russia proposed a deal for pushing Iranian forces out of Syria in return for relief from some U.S. sanctions against Iran. We now know that Netanyahu’s comments referred to a document called the “Patrushev Paper.”

    The Patrushev Paper was given to Israel in a meeting that took place in Moscow on Sept. 13 — four days before the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria that kicked off a deep crisis between Israel and Russia.
    The two Israeli officials told me Russia’s proposal was that Israel would act as a facilitator between the U.S. and Russia and encourage the White House to start a dialogue with the Kremlin on Syria and Iran as an opening for a wider bilateral discussion.
    “They asked us to open the gates for them in Washington,” one Israeli official told me. (...)

    #Israel #Russie #Syrie #USA #Iran


    • Exclusive: Khashoggi sons issue emotional appeal for the return of their father’s body
      By Nic Robertson, CNN
      https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/04/middleeast/salah-khashoggi-abdullah-khashoggi-intl/index.html

      Updated 0004 GMT (0804 HKT) November 5, 2018

      (...) Khashoggi was labeled as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer and a dangerous Islamist in phone calls the Saudi crown prince had with Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, and John Bolton, national security adviser, according to reports in both the Washington Post and New York Times. The Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terror group in many Arab nations, but not the US or Europe, has long been seen as an existential threat by the desert kingdom’s leaders.
      ‘It’s just labels and people not doing their homework properly, and reading his article and going in depth. It’s easier to stick a label on him,’ Abdullah said, when asked about the Muslim Brotherhood claim.
      Asked how Khashoggi should be remembered, Salah replied, ‘as a moderate man who has common values with everyone... a man who loved his country, who believed so much in it and its potential.’
      “Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy that it is the thing that is keeping the country together. And he believed in the transformation that it is going through.”
      Reflecting on their father’s career as a journalist, they say Khashoggi was ‘like a rock and roll star’ when they were out with him in Saudi Arabia.
      ‘He was a public figure that was liked by everyone else,’ Salah said. ‘You don’t see that much in media, in print media.’ (...)

      #Jamal_Khashoggi


  • The White House has revealed massive mission creep in Syria. Here’s why.
    https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/09/25/the-white-house-just-revealed-massive-mission-creep-in-syria-heres-wh

    Officially, the only mission for U.S. troops on the ground in the region ― including about 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 2,200 in Syria ― is to defeat and destroy ISIS.

    But recently the White House has begun to reveal a massive new mission on the horizon for U.S. troops in the Middle East: containing Iran.

    National security adviser John Bolton on Monday said countering Iran’s influence in Syria and elsewhere is a major goal of the U.S. military mission in the Middle East.

    “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias,” Bolton said, signaling a fundamental shift from the current counter-terrorism operations to a mission focused more on geopolitical maneuvering and proxy warfare.


  • Les États-Unis dévoilent la condition de leur retrait de Syrie - Sputnik France
    https://fr.sputniknews.com/international/201809241038218472-bolton-etats-unis-syrie

    « Les troupes des États-Unis ne quitteront pas la Syrie tant que des troupes iraniennes se trouvent en dehors d’Iran », a-t-il déclaré lors d’une conférence de presse à New York.

    En vo : “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias,” White House national security adviser John Bolton said while traveling in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, according to the Associated Press." (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/john-bolton-us-will-stay-in-syria-until-iran-leaves)

    Et moi qui croyais qu’ils étaient là pour défendre la révolution syrienne ! Comme j’étais naïf !

    #syrie #grand_jeu

    • US military document reveals how the West opposed a democratic Syria, by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (Le Monde diplomatique - English edition, September 2018)
      https://mondediplo.com/outside-in/syria-democracy-documents

      Despite acknowledging that opposition groups would probably fail to overthrow Assad, the document still assesses that they could be mobilised to counter Iranian encroachment. It was accepted that this would empower Islamist forces among the Syrian opposition, rather than democratic and secular forces: ‘Turkey does not have good options nor the capability to effect change in Syria any time soon, but it will gradually attempt to build up linkages with groups inside Syria, focusing in particular on the Islamist remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood in trying to fashion a viable Islamist political force in Syria that would operate under Ankara’s umbrella. This will take time to develop, but the geopolitical dynamic of the region points to a gradually [sic] weakening of the Alawite hold on power in Syria.’

      The anti-democratic nature of the strategy was clear. Regardless of the democratic aspirations driving the Syrian uprising, US military officials were content with the idea of encouraging foreign powers to nurture Islamist forces in Syria who would operate under the ‘umbrella’ of those foreign powers: all to try and weaken Iran’s foothold.


  • How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
    http://archive.is/VH3r#selection-801.1-919.214

    January 15, 1998

    by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

    Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

    Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

    Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

    Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

    Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

    Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

    Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

    Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

    Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

    Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

    * There are at least two editions of this magazine; with the perhaps sole exception of the Library of Congress, the version sent to the United States is shorter than the French version, and the Brzezinski interview was not included in the shorter version.
    The above has been translated from the French by Bill Blum author of the indispensible, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” and “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”

    #Afghanistan #USA #URSS #histoire


    • could lead to an end,… le contenu de l’article n’est pas aussi optimiste. Ce pourrait être, au contraire, le signal d’un renouveau des conflits.

      After the Yugoslav wars, the Western powers that intervened to end the bloodshed hoped the nations that emerged from the conflicts would learn to respect their minorities. A redrawing of borders along ethnic lines would be an admission that these hopes were futile, and it could increase the temptation for minorities in other ex-Yugoslav states to secede. The danger is especially great in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Serb- and Croat-dominated regions could gravitate toward Serbia and Croatia, and in Macedonia, which has a strong ethnic Albanian minority.

      If a swap prompts Albanian nationalists in Macedonia and Kosovo to push harder for a “Greater Albania” and Serbs and Croats move to break up Bosnia, the danger of armed conflicts will re-emerge. That’s a situation no one wants. That’s why German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposes any deal that would involve border changes, even though U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has said the Trump administration wouldn’t object to such an outcome.

      C’est cet angle que retenait le Monde le 14 août
      https://seenthis.net/messages/715009
      (avec carte des zones envisagées pour l’échange)

    • Kosovo-Serbie : une « #rectification_des_frontières » pour une « solution définitive » ?

      Le dialogue, poussivement mené entre Belgrade et Pristina sous l’égide de l’Union européenne, était au point mort, mais Aleksandar Vučić et son homologue kosovar Hashim Thaçi ont brusquement décidé d’accélérer le processus et de trouver une « solution définitive », qui passerait par une « rectification des frontières ». Une hypothèse qui pourrait créer un très dangereux précédent.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/+-dialogue-Kosovo-Serbie-+
      #frontières_mobiles

      v. aussi :
      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Kosovo-dialogue-etc
      #paywall


  • John Bolton chaired anti-Muslim think tank
    https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/john-bolton-chaired-anti-muslim-think-tank-n868171

    John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, chaired a nonprofit that has promoted misleading and false anti-Muslim news, some of which was amplified by a Russian troll factory, an NBC News review found.

    The group’s authors also appeared on Russian media, including Sputnik and RT News, criticizing mainstream European leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron.

    From 2013 until last month, Bolton was chairman of the Gatestone Institute, a New York-based advocacy group that warns of a looming “jihadist takeover” of Europe leading to a “Great White Death.”

    The group has published numerous stories and headlines on its website with similar themes. “Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants,” warned one from May 2017, about a single apartment rental property in Hamburg that had gone into temporary trusteeship. Another from February 2015 claimed the immigrants, for instance Somalis, in Sweden were turning that country into the “Rape Capital of the West.”

    #islamophobie


  • We must stop John Bolton from escalating war in Syria (http://ratio...
    https://diasp.eu/p/6997530

    We must stop John Bolton from escalating war in Syria

    Source: In These Times by Phyllis Bennis

    “Today, fanatic war proponent John Bolton is taking office as President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser — and it comes at a perilous moment for international security. The volatile situation in Syria significantly raises the danger of a major intensification of direct U.S. military involvement. Over the weekend, the opposition’s extremist Jaish al-Islam group reached a deal with the government to leave its territory, paving the way for the Damascus regime to reclaim control over Douma, the last opposition-held area in the capital’s suburbs. Following Saturday’s alleged deadly chemical attack on civilians, which Trump immediately blamed on Assad backed by Russia and Iran, Trump said his (...)


  • #John_Bolton, un « faucon » pour Donald Trump en politique étrangère
    http://www.lemonde.fr/ameriques/article/2018/03/23/john-bolton-un-faucon-pour-donald-trump-en-politique-etrangere_5275089_3222.

    Neuf jours après avoir renvoyé son chef de la diplomatie, Donald Trump a annoncé dans la soirée du jeudi 22 mars, sur Twitter le limogeage de son conseiller à la sécurité nationale, H. R. McMaster, et son remplacement par John Bolton.


  • Report says U.S. officials are concerned that Israel and others attempted to manipulate Kushner

    Israel, China, the UAE and Mexico tried to sway Kushner to promote their interests, a report claims amid news that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser was stripped of his interim security clearance

    Amir Tibon (Washington) Feb 28, 2018

    WASHINGTON– Officials in the U.S. government and intelligence community are concerned that foreign governments, including the Israeli government, were trying to “manipulate” Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Washington Post. The report stated that officials from Israel, China, the UAE and Mexico had all discussed how they can use Kushner’s business interests to influence his foreign policy work in the White House.
    According to the report, Trump’s National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, “learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.” It also stated that “Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was ’naive and being tricked’ in conversations with foreign officials - some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel”.
    Top secret downgrade
    The report comes amidst tensions in the White House over the issue of Kushner’s access to top secret intelligence. Politico reported on Tuesday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has decided to strip Kushner of his access to certain areas of sensitive intelligence, in light of the fact that Kushner has failed to obtain permanent security clearance from the U.S. intelligence community.
    The Washington Post report concerning foreign governments’ alleged attempt to influence the senior White House aide could be seen as a possible explanation for Kushner’s difficulties in receiving his security clearance.
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    A lawyer representing Kushner said in reply to the report: “We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling second-hand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information.”

    A spokesperson for the White said that General McMaster has “the highest regard” for Kushner and that both of them work closely together on foreign policy issues.
    The Israeli Embassy in Washington refused to comment.
    The report did not contain details about the alleged attempts by the foreign governments, including the Israeli government, to “manipulate” Kushner based on his business interests.
    One of Kushner’s main areas of responsibility in the White House is leading the administration’s Middle East peace team, which is working on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.


  • With Bannon banished from Trump World, pro-Israel hard-liners pin their hopes on Pence

    Far-right U.S. Jewish Republicans believed the one-time Breitbart supremo had their back, but his fall from grace shifts their focus to the vice president and a very unlikely blast from the recent past

    Allison Kaplan Sommer Jan 16, 2018

    Few American Jews shed tears at the downfall of Steve Bannon, whose humiliation was made complete Tuesday when he stepped down from Breitbart News following his ugly estrangement from President Donald Trump – confirmed by the insulting new nickname of Sloppy Steve.
    skip - Donald Trump tweet
    The catalyst for his fate were his uncensored remarks in Michael Wolffs White House tell-all book, Fire and Fury, alienating Trump and then, fatally, the Mercers (Bannons arch-conservative financial backers who bankrolled both Breitbart and his endeavors to become a renegade Republican kingmaker.)
    The vast majority of Americas overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic Jews viewed Bannon as either an anti-Semite or an anti-Semite enabler whose conspiratorial references to demonic global financiers awakened and emboldened white supremacists. His oft-quoted description of Breitbart as the platform for the alt-right white nationalist movement confirmed such views.
    But for the minority of staunchly hard-line, pro-Israel Jews (and evangelical Christians) who support Israels settlement enterprise, oppose a Palestinian state and any form of territorial compromise, Bannon was an important force in the White House.
    For this group, his out-of-the-box positions on Israel far outweighed any threats the views of the Trump-voting, alt-right fan base from which he drew his influence might pose.
    Notably, it was Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America – who invited Bannon to address his organizations annual gala last November – who was the sole loyalist quoted as willing to speak up for Bannon in a lengthy Politico piece on Sunday. Klein said: If there is anyone, like Bannon, who is a strong supporter of Israel and a strong fighter against anti-Semitism and that person ends up having less influence on the administration, that is something that would sadden me.

    In Fire and Fury, the extent to which Bannons position on Israel matched hard-liners like Klein was described in detail. The book not only revealed that Trumps then-strategic adviser planned to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Day One after entering the White House, but, moreover, had an extreme and highly unorthodox approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza, says Bannon in the book. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.
    He then claimed that both GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were all in on his plans.
    Taken as a whole, it is a depiction of an extreme right-wing cabal, one that could find its place on the right fringes of Likud, that has been guiding if not running [President Donald] Trumps Middle East policies, Haaretzs Chemi Shalev wrote. Shalev described it as an axis that dominated Trumps Middle East policies during his first year in office. It is an alliance that Netanyahu appears to have cultivated, with the assistance, or at the direction, of his Las Vegas benefactor, Adelson. All three operate under the premise ascribed to Bannon that the further right you were, the more correct you were on Israel.
    This hard-line trio of influence presumably acted as a counterweight against the more pragmatic former military men in the White House – most prominently National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, but also former Secretary of Homeland Security and current Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis – whom, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the far right privately scorn as Arabists who are soft on Israel. It was also a bulwark against Trumps fantasies of making the ultimate deal, which they believed were being cultivated by Bannons nemesis – Trumps son-in-law and aide, Jared Kushner.
    Bannons banishment from the White House, and now his political self-immolation and disappearance from Trumps circle of influence, comes as a deep disappointment to those who embraced and celebrated his outlook and that of satellite foreign policy Bannonites like Sebastian Gorka.
    Sad, tragic and disappointing, one pro-Trump Republican on the Jewish far right told me, asking not to be identified by name. Israels lost a really important voice.
    With that sadness comes concern over the increased influence of the generals, as well as Javanka (Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump), on Middle East policy. The Jewish Trump supporter said he believes the presidents son-in-law has got his head in a very dark place when it comes to this peace thing. I think Jared is really wrong on this whole peace plan and can only do damage, he noted.
    But the hard-liners are still hopeful, attributing their optimism that the Trump administration will avoid any Kushner-fueled peace attempts to three factors.
    First, and most prominently, their hopes are pinned on Vice President Mike Pence – who will visit Israel on January 22-23 – and the evangelical Christian base he represents. Rejecting the portrayal of a sidelined Pence in Wolffs book, they call him a powerful player, particularly on Israel.

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, January 9, 2018. JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS
    Clear evidence for this, they argue, lies in the fact that last months declaration of recognizing Jerusalem as Israels capital and the plan for an embassy move came after Bannon left the White House. It was Pence and the evangelicals – not Adelson, Netanyahu and Bannon – who ultimately got something done, and they are the ones who will have Israels back in the post-Bannon era.
    Secondly, there are the Palestinians themselves, who called the Jerusalem declaration a kiss of death to the two-state solution.
    Third, there is Trump himself. Much as the president is portrayed as an utterly transactional empty vessel, his Jewish supporters dont believe his views were artificially foisted on him by Bannon, but instead come from his own core beliefs. It was the president himself who wanted to move the embassy at the very beginning of his administration, they say, and it was Netanyahu himself who told Trump it would be better to wait.
    skip - Conor Powell tweet
    Return of the Mooch?
    If there is now a vacuum in the conduit between the far-right Klein/Adelson crowd and the Trump White House, one figure is clearly eager to fill it. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is not only different from Bannon – as slick and public as Bannon is unkempt and secretive – but he is also Bannons nemesis.

    In this July 2017 file photo, Anthony Scaramucci blows a kiss after answering questions during the press briefing.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
    Call it a coincidence, but on the same day Bannon departed from Breitbart, it was also announced that Scaramucci – who spent the day dancing on his grave – would be a keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. The RJC confab is set for early February at Adelsons Venetian hotel and casino. In the past, ZOAs Klein has described Scaramucci as being supportive of Israel in the ZOA way, not in the mainstream Jewish way.
    Scaramucci has made a point of cozying up to the Adelson-backed Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. It was at a Boteach Hanukkah party that Scaramucci reportedly took a verbal detour from recounting his trip to Israel to insult Bannon, allegedly calling the former Trump aide messianic and a loser, warning that Hell be a stalwart defender of Israel until hes not. Thats how this guy operates. Ive seen this guy operate. He was a stalwart defender of me until it became better for him not to be.
    In the end, it was not his failure to defend Israel that proved to be Bannons undoing. It was his failure to defend Donald Trump.

    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Haaretz Correspondent

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  • Declassified Documents on the Controversial Warsaw Pact Spy
    https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/ryszard-kuklinski-cia-documents-available-happ-digital-archive

    Ryszard Kuklinski was a Polish colonel and Cold War spy who passed top secret Warsaw Pact documents to the United States Central Intelligence Agency between 1972 and 1981.

    Kuklinski, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff and aide to Polish prime minister and communist party chief (and later president) Wojciech Jaruzelski, volunteered his services to the United States Army in 1972. For over nine years, Kuklinski provided the CIA with more than 40,000 pages of documents regarding the innermost secrets of the Warsaw Pact, “the secrets of the kitchen” in the words of Jaruzelski. The documents Kuklinski shared included war plans—intelligence that was deemed of “truly great strategic significance” by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser.

    During the 1980-81 Polish Crisis, Kuklinski continued to provide information on Warsaw Pact planning, internal Polish developments and Soviet pressures. In the midst of the crisis in 1981,

    RYSZARD KUKLIŃSKI COLLECTION
    http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/collection/485/ryszard-kuklinski-collection


  • What Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” says about Trump’s collusion with Israel
    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/what-michael-wolffs-fire-and-fury-says-about-trumps-collusion-is

    However, the special counsel probe by Robert Mueller has indeed uncovered some collusion between the Trump team and a foreign power: Israel.

    In a plea agreement last month for making false statements to the FBI, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn admitted that he had contacted foreign governments during the final weeks of the Obama administration to try to derail a UN vote condemning Israeli settlements.

    This possibly illegal effort to undermine the policy of the sitting administration was done at the direction of Kushner and at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Yet mainstream pundits have shown little concern, just as they have shown little interest in any further revelations about what we might well call Israelgate coming out of the Wolff book.

    As the book’s publication was brought forward amid the media frenzy, I decided to take a look.

    It turns out that Fire and Fury contains evidence that Trump’s policy is not so much America First as it is Israel First.

    Wolff recounts an early January 2017 dinner in New York where Bannon and disgraced former Fox News boss Roger Ailes discussed cabinet picks.

    Bannon observed that they did not have a “deep bench,” but both men agreed the extremely pro-Israel neocon John Bolton would be a good pick for national security adviser. “He’s a bomb thrower,” Ailes said of Bolton, “and a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel?”

    “Day one we’re moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all in,” Bannon said, adding that anti-Palestinian casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson was on board too.

    “Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying,” Bannon proposed. “The Saudis are on the brink, Egyptians are on brink, all scared to death of Persia.”

    Asked by Ailes, “Does Donald know” the plan, Bannon reportedly just smiled.

    Bannon’s idea reflected “the new Trump thinking” about the Middle East: “There are basically four players,” writes Wolff, “Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The first three can be united against the fourth.” Egypt and Saudi Arabia would be “given what they want” in respect to Iran, and in return would “pressure the Palestinians to make a deal.”

    Another key foreign policy relationship for the Trump administration has been with Mohammad bin Salman, the reckless crown prince and real power in Saudi Arabia, who has been willing to go along with the plan, especially by cozying up to Israel.

    According to Wolff, the lack of education of both Trump and MBS – as the Saudi prince is commonly known – put them on an “equal footing” and made them “oddly comfortable with each other.”

    Trump, ignorant and constantly flattered by regional leaders, appeared to naively believe he could pull off what he called “the biggest breakthrough in Israel-Palestine negotiations ever.”


  • Jackson Lears · What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking : #Russiagate · LRB 4 January 2018
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n01/jackson-lears/what-we-dont-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-russian-hacking
    La pensée unique aux États Unis de plus en plus sectaire et pesante

    Jackson Lears

    American politics have rarely presented a more disheartening spectacle. The repellent and dangerous antics of Donald Trump are troubling enough, but so is the Democratic Party leadership’s failure to take in the significance of the 2016 election campaign. Bernie Sanders’s challenge to Hillary Clinton, combined with Trump’s triumph, revealed the breadth of popular anger at politics as usual – the blend of neoliberal domestic policy and interventionist foreign policy that constitutes consensus in Washington. Neoliberals celebrate market utility as the sole criterion of worth; interventionists exalt military adventure abroad as a means of fighting evil in order to secure global progress. Both agendas have proved calamitous for most Americans. Many registered their disaffection in 2016. Sanders is a social democrat and Trump a demagogic mountebank, but their campaigns underscored a widespread repudiation of the Washington consensus. For about a week after the election, pundits discussed the possibility of a more capacious Democratic strategy. It appeared that the party might learn something from Clinton’s defeat. Then everything changed.

    A story that had circulated during the campaign without much effect resurfaced: it involved the charge that Russian operatives had hacked into the servers of the Democratic National Committee, revealing embarrassing emails that damaged Clinton’s chances. With stunning speed, a new centrist-liberal orthodoxy came into being, enveloping the major media and the bipartisan Washington establishment. This secular religion has attracted hordes of converts in the first year of the Trump presidency. In its capacity to exclude dissent, it is like no other formation of mass opinion in my adult life, though it recalls a few dim childhood memories of anti-communist hysteria during the early 1950s.

    The centrepiece of the faith, based on the hacking charge, is the belief that Vladimir Putin orchestrated an attack on American democracy by ordering his minions to interfere in the election on behalf of Trump. The story became gospel with breathtaking suddenness and completeness. Doubters are perceived as heretics and as apologists for Trump and Putin, the evil twins and co-conspirators behind this attack on American democracy. Responsibility for the absence of debate lies in large part with the major media outlets. Their uncritical embrace and endless repetition of the Russian hack story have made it seem a fait accompli in the public mind. It is hard to estimate popular belief in this new orthodoxy, but it does not seem to be merely a creed of Washington insiders. If you question the received narrative in casual conversations, you run the risk of provoking blank stares or overt hostility – even from old friends. This has all been baffling and troubling to me; there have been moments when pop-culture fantasies (body snatchers, Kool-Aid) have come to mind.

    Like any orthodoxy worth its salt, the religion of the Russian hack depends not on evidence but on ex cathedra pronouncements on the part of authoritative institutions and their overlords. Its scriptural foundation is a confused and largely fact-free ‘assessment’ produced last January by a small number of ‘hand-picked’ analysts – as James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, described them – from the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The claims of the last were made with only ‘moderate’ confidence. The label Intelligence Community Assessment creates a misleading impression of unanimity, given that only three of the 16 US intelligence agencies contributed to the report. And indeed the assessment itself contained this crucial admission: ‘Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation and precedents.’ Yet the assessment has passed into the media imagination as if it were unassailable fact, allowing journalists to assume what has yet to be proved. In doing so they serve as mouthpieces for the intelligence agencies, or at least for those ‘hand-picked’ analysts.

    It is not the first time the intelligence agencies have played this role. When I hear the Intelligence Community Assessment cited as a reliable source, I always recall the part played by the New York Times in legitimating CIA reports of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s putative weapons of mass destruction, not to mention the long history of disinformation (a.k.a. ‘fake news’) as a tactic for advancing one administration or another’s political agenda. Once again, the established press is legitimating pronouncements made by the Church Fathers of the national security state. Clapper is among the most vigorous of these. He perjured himself before Congress in 2013, when he denied that the NSA had ‘wittingly’ spied on Americans – a lie for which he has never been held to account. In May 2017, he told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the Russians were highly likely to have colluded with Trump’s campaign because they are ‘almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favour, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique’. The current orthodoxy exempts the Church Fathers from standards imposed on ordinary people, and condemns Russians – above all Putin – as uniquely, ‘almost genetically’ diabolical.

    It’s hard for me to understand how the Democratic Party, which once felt scepticism towards the intelligence agencies, can now embrace the CIA and the FBI as sources of incontrovertible truth. One possible explanation is that Trump’s election has created a permanent emergency in the liberal imagination, based on the belief that the threat he poses is unique and unprecedented. It’s true that Trump’s menace is viscerally real. But the menace posed by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney was equally real. The damage done by Bush and Cheney – who ravaged the Middle East, legitimated torture and expanded unconstitutional executive power – was truly unprecedented, and probably permanent. Trump does pose an unprecedented threat to undocumented immigrants and Muslim travellers, whose protection is urgent and necessary. But on most issues he is a standard issue Republican. He is perfectly at home with Paul Ryan’s austerity agenda, which involves enormous transfers of wealth to the most privileged Americans. He is as committed as any other Republican to repealing Obama’s Affordable Care Act. During the campaign he posed as an apostate on free trade and an opponent of overseas military intervention, but now that he is in office his free trade views are shifting unpredictably and his foreign policy team is composed of generals with impeccable interventionist credentials.

    Trump is committed to continuing his predecessors’ lavish funding of the already bloated Defence Department, and his Fortress America is a blustering, undisciplined version of Madeleine Albright’s ‘indispensable nation’. Both Trump and Albright assume that the United States should be able to do as it pleases in the international arena: Trump because it’s the greatest country in the world, Albright because it’s an exceptional force for global good. Nor is there anything unprecedented about Trump’s desire for détente with Russia, which until at least 2012 was the official position of the Democratic Party. What is unprecedented about Trump is his offensive style: contemptuous, bullying, inarticulate, and yet perfectly pitched to appeal to the anger and anxiety of his target audience. His excess has licensed overt racism and proud misogyny among some of his supporters. This is cause for denunciation, but I am less persuaded that it justifies the anti-Russian mania.

    Besides Trump’s supposed uniqueness, there are two other assumptions behind the furore in Washington: the first is that the Russian hack unquestionably occurred, and the second is that the Russians are our implacable enemies. The second provides the emotional charge for the first. Both seem to me problematic. With respect to the first, the hacking charges are unproved and may well remain so. Edward Snowden and others familiar with the NSA say that if long-distance hacking had taken place the agency would have monitored it and could detail its existence without compromising their secret sources and methods. In September, Snowden told Der Spiegel that the NSA ‘probably knows quite well who the invaders were’. And yet ‘it has not presented any evidence, although I suspect it exists. The question is: why not? … I suspect it discovered other attackers in the systems, maybe there were six or seven groups at work.’ He also said in July 2016 that ‘even if the attackers try to obfuscate origin, ‪#XKEYSCORE makes following exfiltrated data easy. I did this personally against Chinese ops.’ The NSA’s capacity to follow hacking to its source is a matter of public record. When the agency investigated pervasive and successful Chinese hacking into US military and defence industry installations, it was able to trace the hacks to the building where they originated, a People’s Liberation Army facility in Shanghai. That information was published in the New York Times, but, this time, the NSA’s failure to provide evidence has gone curiously unremarked. When The Intercept published a story about the NSA’s alleged discovery that Russian military intelligence had attempted to hack into US state and local election systems, the agency’s undocumented assertions about the Russian origins of the hack were allowed to stand as unchallenged fact and quickly became treated as such in the mainstream media.

    Meanwhile, there has been a blizzard of ancillary accusations, including much broader and vaguer charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. It remains possible that Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who has been appointed to investigate these allegations, may turn up some compelling evidence of contacts between Trump’s people and various Russians. It would be surprising if an experienced prosecutor empowered to cast a dragnet came up empty-handed, and the arrests have already begun. But what is striking about them is that the charges have nothing to do with Russian interference in the election. There has been much talk about the possibility that the accused may provide damaging evidence against Trump in exchange for lighter sentences, but this is merely speculation. Paul Manafort, at one point Trump’s campaign manager, has pleaded not guilty to charges of failing to register his public relations firm as a foreign agent for the Ukrainian government and concealing his millions of dollars in fees. But all this occurred before the 2016 campaign. George Papadopolous, a foreign policy adviser, has pleaded guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI about his bungling efforts to arrange a meeting between Trump’s people and the Russian government – an opportunity the Trump campaign declined. Mueller’s most recent arrestee, Michael Flynn, the unhinged Islamophobe who was briefly Trump’s national security adviser, has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI about meeting the Russian ambassador in December – weeks after the election. This is the sort of backchannel diplomacy that routinely occurs during the interim between one administration and the next. It is not a sign of collusion.

    So far, after months of ‘bombshells’ that turn out to be duds, there is still no actual evidence for the claim that the Kremlin ordered interference in the American election. Meanwhile serious doubts have surfaced about the technical basis for the hacking claims. Independent observers have argued it is more likely that the emails were leaked from inside, not hacked from outside. On this front, the most persuasive case was made by a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, former employees of the US intelligence agencies who distinguished themselves in 2003 by debunking Colin Powell’s claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, hours after Powell had presented his pseudo-evidence at the UN. (There are members of VIPS who dissent from the VIPS report’s conclusions, but their arguments are in turn contested by the authors of the report.) The VIPS findings received no attention in major media outlets, except Fox News – which from the centre-left perspective is worse than no attention at all. Mainstream media have dismissed the VIPS report as a conspiracy theory (apparently the Russian hacking story does not count as one). The crucial issue here and elsewhere is the exclusion from public discussion of any critical perspectives on the orthodox narrative, even the perspectives of people with professional credentials and a solid track record.

    Both the DNC hacking story and the one involving the emails of John Podesta, a Clinton campaign operative, involve a shadowy bunch of putatively Russian hackers called Fancy Bear – also known among the technically inclined as APT28. The name Fancy Bear was introduced by Dimitri Alperovitch, the chief technology officer of Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the theft of their emails. Alperovitch is also a fellow at the Atlantic Council, an anti-Russian Washington think tank. In its report Crowdstrike puts forward close to zero evidence for its claim that those responsible were Russian, let alone for its assertion that they were affiliated with Russian military intelligence. And yet, from this point on, the assumption that this was a Russian cyber operation was unquestioned. When the FBI arrived on the scene, the Bureau either did not request or was refused access to the DNC servers; instead it depended entirely on the Crowdstrike analysis. Crowdstrike, meanwhile, was being forced to retract another claim, that the Russians had successfully hacked the guidance systems of the Ukrainian artillery. The Ukrainian military and the British International Institute for Strategic Studies both contradicted this claim, and Crowdstrike backed down. But its DNC analysis was allowed to stand and even become the basis for the January Intelligence Community Assessment.

    The chatter surrounding the hack would never have acquired such urgency were it not for the accompanying assumption: Russia is a uniquely dangerous adversary, with which we should avoid all contact. Without that belief, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s meetings with Russians in September 2016 would become routine discussions between a senator and foreign officials. Flynn’s post-election conversations with the Russian ambassador would appear unremarkable. Trump’s cronies’ attempts to do business in Russia would become merely sleazy. Donald Trump Jr’s meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya would be transformed from a melodrama of shady intrigue to a comedy of errors – with the candidate’s son expecting to receive information to use against Clinton but discovering Veselnitskaya only wanted to talk about repealing sanctions and restarting the flow of Russian orphans to the United States. And Putin himself would become just another autocrat, with whom democracies could engage without endorsing.

    Sceptical voices, such as those of the VIPS, have been drowned out by a din of disinformation. Flagrantly false stories, like the Washington Post report that the Russians had hacked into the Vermont electrical grid, are published, then retracted 24 hours later. Sometimes – like the stories about Russian interference in the French and German elections – they are not retracted even after they have been discredited. These stories have been thoroughly debunked by French and German intelligence services but continue to hover, poisoning the atmosphere, confusing debate. The claim that the Russians hacked local and state voting systems in the US was refuted by California and Wisconsin election officials, but their comments generated a mere whisper compared with the uproar created by the original story. The rush to publish without sufficient attention to accuracy has become the new normal in journalism. Retraction or correction is almost beside the point: the false accusation has done its work.

    The consequence is a spreading confusion that envelops everything. Epistemological nihilism looms, but some people and institutions have more power than others to define what constitutes an agreed-on reality. To say this is to risk dismissal as the ultimate wing-nut in the lexicon of contemporary Washington: the conspiracy theorist. Still, the fact remains: sometimes powerful people arrange to promote ideas that benefit their common interests. Whether we call this hegemony, conspiracy or merely special privilege hardly matters. What does matter is the power to create what Gramsci called the ‘common sense’ of an entire society. Even if much of that society is indifferent to or suspicious of the official common sense, it still becomes embedded among the tacit assumptions that set the boundaries of ‘responsible opinion’. So the Democratic establishment (along with a few Republicans) and the major media outlets have made ‘Russian meddling’ the common sense of the current moment. What kind of cultural work does this common sense do? What are the consequences of the spectacle the media call (with characteristic originality) ‘Russiagate’?

    The most immediate consequence is that, by finding foreign demons who can be blamed for Trump’s ascendancy, the Democratic leadership have shifted the blame for their defeat away from their own policies without questioning any of their core assumptions. Amid the general recoil from Trump, they can even style themselves dissenters – ‘#the resistance’ was the label Clintonites appropriated within a few days of the election. Mainstream Democrats have begun to use the word ‘progressive’ to apply to a platform that amounts to little more than preserving Obamacare, gesturing towards greater income equality and protecting minorities. This agenda is timid. It has nothing to say about challenging the influence of concentrated capital on policy, reducing the inflated defence budget or withdrawing from overextended foreign commitments; yet without those initiatives, even the mildest egalitarian policies face insuperable obstacles. More genuine insurgencies are in the making, which confront corporate power and connect domestic with foreign policy, but they face an uphill battle against the entrenched money and power of the Democratic leadership – the likes of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the Clintons and the DNC. Russiagate offers Democratic elites a way to promote party unity against Trump-Putin, while the DNC purges Sanders’s supporters.

    For the DNC, the great value of the Russian hack story is that it focuses attention away from what was actually in their emails. The documents revealed a deeply corrupt organisation, whose pose of impartiality was a sham. Even the reliably pro-Clinton Washington Post has admitted that ‘many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.’ Further evidence of collusion between the Clinton machine and the DNC surfaced recently in a memoir by Donna Brazile, who became interim chair of the DNC after Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in the wake of the email revelations. Brazile describes discovering an agreement dated 26 August 2015, which specified (she writes)

    that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics and mailings.

    Before the primaries had even begun, the supposedly neutral DNC – which had been close to insolvency – had been bought by the Clinton campaign.

    Another recent revelation of DNC tactics concerns the origins of the inquiry into Trump’s supposed links to Putin. The story began in April 2016, when the DNC hired a Washington research firm called Fusion GPS to unearth any connections between Trump and Russia. The assignment involved the payment of ‘cash for trash’, as the Clinton campaign liked to say. Fusion GPS eventually produced the trash, a lurid account written by the former British MI6 intelligence agent Christopher Steele, based on hearsay purchased from anonymous Russian sources. Amid prostitutes and golden showers, a story emerged: the Russian government had been blackmailing and bribing Donald Trump for years, on the assumption that he would become president some day and serve the Kremlin’s interests. In this fantastic tale, Putin becomes a preternaturally prescient schemer. Like other accusations of collusion, this one has become vaguer over time, adding to the murky atmosphere without ever providing any evidence. The Clinton campaign tried to persuade established media outlets to publicise the Steele dossier, but with uncharacteristic circumspection, they declined to promote what was plainly political trash rather than reliable reporting. Yet the FBI apparently took the Steele dossier seriously enough to include a summary of it in a secret appendix to the Intelligence Community Assessment. Two weeks before the inauguration, James Comey, the director of the FBI, described the dossier to Trump. After Comey’s briefing was leaked to the press, the website Buzzfeed published the dossier in full, producing hilarity and hysteria in the Washington establishment.

    The Steele dossier inhabits a shadowy realm where ideology and intelligence, disinformation and revelation overlap. It is the antechamber to the wider system of epistemological nihilism created by various rival factions in the intelligence community: the ‘tree of smoke’ that, for the novelist Denis Johnson, symbolised CIA operations in Vietnam. I inhaled that smoke myself in 1969-70, when I was a cryptographer with a Top Secret clearance on a US navy ship that carried missiles armed with nuclear warheads – the existence of which the navy denied. I was stripped of my clearance and later honourably discharged when I refused to join the Sealed Authenticator System, which would have authorised the launch of those allegedly non-existent nuclear weapons. The tree of smoke has only grown more complex and elusive since then. Yet the Democratic Party has now embarked on a full-scale rehabilitation of the intelligence community – or at least the part of it that supports the notion of Russian hacking. (We can be sure there is disagreement behind the scenes.) And it is not only the Democratic establishment that is embracing the deep state. Some of the party’s base, believing Trump and Putin to be joined at the hip, has taken to ranting about ‘treason’ like a reconstituted John Birch Society.

    I thought of these ironies when I visited the Tate Modern exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, which featured the work of black American artists from the 1960s and 1970s, when intelligence agencies (and agents provocateurs) were spearheading a government crackdown on black militants, draft resisters, deserters and antiwar activists. Amid the paintings, collages and assemblages there was a single Confederate flag, accompanied by grim reminders of the Jim Crow past – a Klansman in full regalia, a black body dangling from a tree. There were also at least half a dozen US flags, juxtaposed in whole or in part with images of contemporary racial oppression that could have occurred anywhere in America: dead black men carted off on stretchers by skeletons in police uniform; a black prisoner tied to a chair, awaiting torture. The point was to contrast the pretensions of ‘the land of the free’ with the practices of the national security state and local police forces. The black artists of that era knew their enemy: black people were not being killed and imprisoned by some nebulous foreign adversary, but by the FBI, the CIA and the police.

    The Democratic Party has now developed a new outlook on the world, a more ambitious partnership between liberal humanitarian interventionists and neoconservative militarists than existed under the cautious Obama. This may be the most disastrous consequence for the Democratic Party of the new anti-Russian orthodoxy: the loss of the opportunity to formulate a more humane and coherent foreign policy. The obsession with Putin has erased any possibility of complexity from the Democratic world picture, creating a void quickly filled by the monochrome fantasies of Hillary Clinton and her exceptionalist allies. For people like Max Boot and Robert Kagan, war is a desirable state of affairs, especially when viewed from the comfort of their keyboards, and the rest of the world – apart from a few bad guys – is filled with populations who want to build societies just like ours: pluralistic, democratic and open for business. This view is difficult to challenge when it cloaks itself in humanitarian sentiment. There is horrific suffering in the world; the US has abundant resources to help relieve it; the moral imperative is clear. There are endless forms of international engagement that do not involve military intervention. But it is the path taken by US policy often enough that one may suspect humanitarian rhetoric is nothing more than window-dressing for a more mundane geopolitics – one that defines the national interest as global and virtually limitless.

    Having come of age during the Vietnam War, a calamitous consequence of that inflated definition of national interest, I have always been attracted to the realist critique of globalism. Realism is a label forever besmirched by association with Henry Kissinger, who used it as a rationale for intervening covertly and overtly in other nations’ affairs. Yet there is a more humane realist tradition, the tradition of George Kennan and William Fulbright, which emphasises the limits of military might, counselling that great power requires great restraint. This tradition challenges the doctrine of regime change under the guise of democracy promotion, which – despite its abysmal failures in Iraq and Libya – retains a baffling legitimacy in official Washington. Russiagate has extended its shelf life.

    We can gauge the corrosive impact of the Democrats’ fixation on Russia by asking what they aren’t talking about when they talk about Russian hacking. For a start, they aren’t talking about interference of other sorts in the election, such as the Republican Party’s many means of disenfranchising minority voters. Nor are they talking about the trillion dollar defence budget that pre-empts the possibility of single-payer healthcare and other urgently needed social programmes; nor about the modernisation of the American nuclear arsenal which Obama began and Trump plans to accelerate, and which raises the risk of the ultimate environmental calamity, nuclear war – a threat made more serious than it has been in decades by America’s combative stance towards Russia. The prospect of impeaching Trump and removing him from office by convicting him of collusion with Russia has created an atmosphere of almost giddy anticipation among leading Democrats, allowing them to forget that the rest of the Republican Party is composed of many politicians far more skilful in Washington’s ways than their president will ever be.

    It is not the Democratic Party that is leading the search for alternatives to the wreckage created by Republican policies: a tax plan that will soak the poor and middle class to benefit the rich; a heedless pursuit of fossil fuels that is already resulting in the contamination of the water supply of the Dakota people; and continued support for police policies of militarisation and mass incarceration. It is local populations that are threatened by oil spills and police beatings, and that is where humane populism survives. A multitude of insurgent groups have begun to use the outrage against Trump as a lever to move the party in egalitarian directions: Justice Democrats, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists of America, as well as a host of local and regional organisations. They recognise that there are far more urgent – and genuine – reasons to oppose Trump than vague allegations of collusion with Russia. They are posing an overdue challenge to the long con of neoliberalism, and the technocratic arrogance that led to Clinton’s defeat in Rust Belt states. Recognising that the current leadership will not bring about significant change, they are seeking funding from outside the DNC. This is the real resistance, as opposed to ‘#theresistance’.

    On certain important issues – such as broadening support for single-payer healthcare, promoting a higher minimum wage or protecting undocumented immigrants from the most flagrant forms of exploitation – these insurgents are winning wide support. Candidates like Paula Jean Swearengin, a coal miner’s daughter from West Virginia who is running in the Democratic primary for nomination to the US Senate, are challenging establishment Democrats who stand cheek by jowl with Republicans in their service to concentrated capital. Swearengin’s opponent is Joe Manchin, whom the Los Angeles Times has compared to Doug Jones, another ‘very conservative’ Democrat who recently won election to the US Senate in Alabama, narrowly defeating a Republican disgraced by accusations of sexual misconduct with 14-year-old girls. I can feel relieved at that result without joining in the collective Democratic ecstasy, which reveals the party’s persistent commitment to politics as usual. Democrat leaders have persuaded themselves (and much of their base) that all the republic needs is a restoration of the status quo ante Trump. They remain oblivious to popular impatience with familiar formulas. Jess King – a Mennonite woman, Bard College MBA and founder of a local non-profit who is running for Congress as a Justice Democrat in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – put it this way: ‘We see a changing political landscape right now that isn’t measured by traditional left to right politics anymore, but bottom to top. In Pennsylvania and many other places around the country we see a grassroots economic populism on the rise, pushing against the political establishment and status quo that have failed so many in our country.’

    Democratic insurgents are also developing a populist critique of the imperial hubris that has sponsored multiple failed crusades, extorted disproportionate sacrifice from the working class and provoked support for Trump, who presented himself (however misleadingly) as an opponent of open-ended interventionism. On foreign policy, the insurgents face an even more entrenched opposition than on domestic policy: a bipartisan consensus aflame with outrage at the threat to democracy supposedly posed by Russian hacking. Still, they may have found a tactical way forward, by focusing on the unequal burden borne by the poor and working class in the promotion and maintenance of American empire.

    This approach animates Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis, a 33-page document whose authors include Norman Solomon, founder of the web-based insurgent lobby RootsAction.org. ‘The Democratic Party’s claims of fighting for “working families” have been undermined by its refusal to directly challenge corporate power, enabling Trump to masquerade as a champion of the people,’ Autopsy announces. But what sets this apart from most progressive critiques is the cogent connection it makes between domestic class politics and foreign policy. For those in the Rust Belt, military service has often seemed the only escape from the shambles created by neoliberal policies; yet the price of escape has been high. As Autopsy notes, ‘the wisdom of continual war’ – what Clinton calls ‘global leadership’ –

    was far clearer to the party’s standard bearer [in 2016] than it was to people in the US communities bearing the brunt of combat deaths, injuries and psychological traumas. After a decade and a half of non-stop warfare, research data from voting patterns suggest that the Clinton campaign’s hawkish stance was a political detriment in working-class communities hard-hit by American casualties from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Francis Shen of the University of Minnesota and Douglas Kriner of Boston University analysed election results in three key states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – and found that ‘even controlling in a statistical model for many other alternative explanations, we find that there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.’ Clinton’s record of uncritical commitment to military intervention allowed Trump to have it both ways, playing to jingoist resentment while posing as an opponent of protracted and pointless war. Kriner and Shen conclude that Democrats may want to ‘re-examine their foreign policy posture if they hope to erase Trump’s electoral gains among constituencies exhausted and alienated by 15 years of war’. If the insurgent movements within the Democratic Party begin to formulate an intelligent foreign policy critique, a re-examination may finally occur. And the world may come into sharper focus as a place where American power, like American virtue, is limited. For this Democrat, that is an outcome devoutly to be wished. It’s a long shot, but there is something happening out there.

    #USA #cuture #politique


  • North Korea war not ’imminent,’ Trump aides say
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/13/north-korea-war-not-imminent-trump-aides-say/562957001

    Top Trump administration officials sought to assure Americans on Sunday that the nation is not on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, despite the president’s recent threats.

    National security adviser H.R. McMaster and Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said an attack by North Korea does not appear imminent, and that the threat of war is no closer today than it was last week.

    I think we’re not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago,” McMaster said on ABC’s This Week. “The danger is much greater and is growing every day, with every missile test, with the consideration of possibly a sixth nuclear test. And so what we can no longer do is afford to procrastinate.”

    I’ve heard folks talking about [the U.S.] being on the cusp of nuclear war,” Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday. “I’ve seen no intelligence that would indicate that we’re in that place today.”

    McMaster said President Trump’s references to the U.S. military being “locked and loaded” is an effort to maintain peace, not provoke war. The military has made no significant movement of troops or equipment in recent days to prepare to fight North Korea.

    The United States military is always locked and loaded, but the purpose of capable, ready forces is to preserve peace and prevent war," he said. "George Washington said it: The most effective way of preserving peace is to be prepared for war.

    Tout est bon pour rétropédaler, même attribuer l’antique si vis pacem para bellum au pater conscriptus George Washington…
     :-D


  • McMaster boots top intel adviser and Bannon buddy Ezra Cohen from National Security Council -

    Cohen’s dismissal is part of a larger battle between Gen. McMaster and Steve Bannon, who disagree on a number of key issues, including at least two related to Israel

    Amir Tibon (Washington) Aug 03, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.804917

    WASHINGTON – A senior White House adviser on intelligence was removed from the National Security Council on Wednesday, just days after drama within Washington’s top echelons led to the resignation and firings of U.S. President Trump’s chief of staff, press secretary and director of communications 
    Ezra Cohen, a staffer inside the NSC who was appointed by U.S. President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was dismissed by the latter’s successor, General H.R. McMaster. McMaster had wanted to fire Cohen ever since he replaced Flynn in March, but failed to do so because of an intervention by Steve Bannon, Trump’s far-right political adviser, who convinced the president to protect Cohen from McMaster. 
    Cohen’s title within the NSC, the body responsible for providing the president with foreign policy strategy and advice, was senior director for intelligence, a senior position which includes coordination between the White House and the U.S. intelligence community. McMaster, according to news reports, believed that Cohen, who is 31 years old, did not have the required experience for the job. Cohen is considered close to Flynn and Bannon, who both share extreme views about Islam and the Middle East and are opposed to McMaster’s more moderate approach, which is in line with traditional American policy.
    Cohen’s firing was first reported on Wednesday by Jordan Schachtel, a journalist at Conservative Review, who used to work for Breitbart, the right-wing website previously edited by Bannon. In his story about Cohen’s firing, Schachtel also attacked McMaster for “refusing to fire” career diplomats working for the NSC (“Obama holdovers” is the phrase used by many right-wing publications to describe them) and for the leaks coming out of the NSC under his watch. 
    Another development within the NSC which was reported on Wednesday was the firing of Rich Higgins, another NSC staffer appointed by Flynn and considered close to Bannon. Higgins, according to a report by Rosie Gray in The Atlantic, was fired for authoring a memo which said that “globalists,” the “deep state” and “bankers” are working together with “Islamists” to destroy the Trump presidency. Higgins wrote in his memo that “Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed.”
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    These two developments are part of a larger battle between McMaster and Bannon, who fundamentally disagree on a number of key issues, including at least two with a direct connection to Israel: the re-location of the American embassy to Jerusalem (Bannon supported the idea, McMaster and the NSC warned against it), and the Iran nuclear deal, which Bannon and his supporters pushed the president to scrap, against the advice of McMaster and other senior administration officials who urged Trump to keep it. For the time being, McMaster has won both battles. McMater also won an earlier battle in April when he forced Bannon to be removed from the NSC’s “principals committee.”


  • Get your popcorn ready.
    titre du très sérieux…
    Foreign Policy - Situation Report
    http://link.foreignpolicy.com/view/52543e66c16bcfa46f6ced165t1nf.24c3/45ab5353

    Get your popcorn ready. Fired FBI Director Jim Comey will testify in public before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, June 8. Comey will reportedly address his conversations with President Trump and claims that the commander in chief pressured the FBI chief to drop his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.


  • Trump taps Kris Bauman, expert on peace process with Palestinians, as new Israel adviser -

    Bauman’s presence at the National Security Council may mean the White House will focus on security related questions as part of Trump’s attempt to reach a peace deal

    Amir Tibon (Washington) May 04, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.787191

    WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has chosen Kris Bauman, an Air Force colonel and expert on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, to replace Yael Lempert as the National Security Council’s point man for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
    Bauman was involved in the last round of peace negotiations, which took place under former U.S. President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2014, and has been researching the subject for years, most recently at the National Defense University in Washington. Bauman’s presence at the NSC could indicate that the administration will soon turn its attention to security related questions as part of Trump’s attempt to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Bauman now works under the Defense Department and his formal move to the White House is being finalized these days.
    During the 2013 to 2014 peace talks, Bauman was the chief-of-staff for General John Allen, who was appointed by the Obama administration to devise a comprehensive security plan for the day after a peace agreement is signed. Allen led a team of dozens of security and intelligence experts and built a plan that won praise from some senior officials in the Israeli security establishment, but was eventually rejected by former Defense Miniser Moshe Yaalon, who ridiculed it in briefings to the press and said it was not worth the paper its written on.
    As Haaretz reported two weeks ago, Lempert, who held the Israeli-Palestinian file in Obama’s National Security Council, will leave the White House after an extention of three-and-a-half months, which was requested by senior officials in the Trump administration. She participated in Trump’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, making it her last event before returning to the State Department in the coming days.
    Bauman will join a National Security Council in which military officers – on active duty and retired – are holding a number of senior positions, led by U.S. National Security Adviser General H.R McMaster. From 2011 to 2012, Bauman served as an intelligence officer in Iraq. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at the U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College. Bauman holds a PhD from the University of Denver, where his dissertation focused on “multiparty mediation in the Israeli Palestinian peace process.” He began his military career as a pilot flying C-27 and C-5 aircraft.


  • Pence’s visit to Indonesia another strike in internal White House battle over Islam

    Pence praised Indonesia’s ’moderate Islam’ as ’an inspiration to the world,’ but others in Trump’s administration still see all Muslims as a threat

    Amir Tibon Apr 22, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.784940

    Vice President Mike Pence became this week the first senior figure from the Trump White House to visit a Muslim country. As part of his tour in Southeast Asia, that was focused mostly on the crisis in the Korean peninsula, Pence stopped in Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, which is home to approximately 250 million people. 
    During his visit to Jakarta, the country’s capital, Pence made a statement that under previous U.S. administrations probably wouldn’t have been filed as more than a footnote, but in the Trump era, immediately made headlines and raised some eyebrows. “As the largest majority Muslim country, Indonesia’s tradition of moderate Islam, frankly, is an inspiration to the world,” Pence declared. He added that the United States commends Indonesia and its people “for the great inspiration that Indonesia provides to the world.”
    Indonesia is indeed a Muslim country led by moderate and democratically elected leadership. Its president, Joko Widodo, was elected in 2014, and was presented in news reports at the time as an “Indonesian version” of Barack Obama. Indonesia is also an important trade partner for the United States and has the largest navy in Southeast Asia. All of these factors can explain why Pence found it important to flatter his hosts in Jakarta this week. But the fact that he chose to specifically speak about the importance of moderate Islam was what made it into the news reports. 
    The reason is obvious: during his election campaign last year, Pence’s boss, Donald Trump, made statements and promises that ignored any kind of differentiation between various movements and groups in the Muslim world. Trump talked about banning all Muslims from entering the United States, without exception, and in March 2016 he said in an interview to CNN that “Islam hates us. There is tremendous hate there.” 
    Trump also assembled around him a number of key advisers with strong anti-Muslim opinions. Michael Flynn, his first choice for the position of National Security Adviser, claimed that Islam wasn’t truly a religion, but rather a political ideology that must be defeated. He also said radical Islamism was like cancer “inside the body of 1.7 billion people” - suggesting that every Muslim person in the world was “infected” by it.

    #Islam #Etats-Unis